Pentagon official visits Va. mosque to reiterate apology for burning of Quran in Afghanistan

STERLING, Va. — A senior Pentagon official apologized Friday to Washington-area Muslims for the burning of Qurans at a military base in Afghanistan.

Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, said the military is investigating what occurred and that all 140,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan are being retrained in the handling of religious materials.

Lavoy apologized multiple times during a brief speech during prayer services at the ADAMS Center in Sterling, one of the largest mosques in the country.

“I come here today to apologize on behalf of the Department of Defense for the incident that took place in Afghanistan this week,” Lavoy told worshippers, saying the burnings were done “unknowingly and improperly.”

Not everyone who heard Lavoy’s speech was satisfied. Mauri Saalakhan of Silver Spring, Md., who operates the Peace Thru Justice Foundation and came to ADAMS Center to hear Lavoy’s remarks, said that an apology is helpful but insufficient. He said he simply does not believe that the Qurans were mistakenly burned and that the burnings of the Quran are relatively minor compared to the suffering that has been inflicted on the Afghan people as a result of the war.

“The sacrilege against human beings in the so-called war on terror is far more egregious,” Saalakhan said.